|CARNIVAL OF SINNERS (LA MAIN DU DIABLE) (THE DEVIL'S HAND) (director: Maurice Tourneur; screenwriters: based on the short story The Enchanted Hand by Gérard de Nerval/Jean-Paul Le Chanois; cinematographer: Armand Thirard ; editor: Christian Gaudin; music: Roger Dumas; cast: Pierre Fresnay (Roland Brissot), Josseline Gaël (Irene), Noël Roquevert (Mélisse), Guillaume de Sax (Gibelin), Pierre Palau (The Small Man, The Devil), Andre Varennes (Colonel), Robert Vattier (Perrier); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Alfred Greven/Maurice Tourneur; Janus; 1943-France-in French with English subtitles)|
entrancing Faustian horror/fantasy pic."
by Dennis Schwartz
70-year-old father Maurice Tourneur ("Katia"/"Dilemma
of Two Angels"/"Ship of Lost Men") directs this
atmospheric entrancing Faustian horror/fantasy pic.
It's based on the short story from 1832, The
Enchanted Hand, by Gérard de
Nerval. The screenplay is by Jean-Paul Le
one-armed, black glove wearing, 35-year-old
artist, Roland Brissot (Pierre Fresnay),
appears during dinner time at a crowded isolated inn,
the Abbey Hotel, in the mountain border area between
France and Italy, and is carrying a small package he
guards with his life during a rain storm.
There's lots of excitement because the police fired
two shots chasing after someone with a coffin and the
lights briefly go out due to a power outage. The
curious guests get their peculiar harried traveler to
tell them his unbelievable story of how when he was a
struggling Parisian artist a year ago he bought in the
Melisse restaurant, from the owner (Noël Roquevert),
for a penny, a mysterious cursed talisman with the
devil's hand in it. Overnight the talisman makes it
possible for him to paint great paintings under
the pseudonym "Maximus Léo,"
and he become an overnight commercial success. Because
of the sudden success, he marries the
pretty store clerk, Irene (Josseline
Gaël), who previously rejected
him because he was a loser. The catch over this
bargain with the devil (Pierre Palau),
a small guy in a bowler following the possessed artist
around, is that if he can't sell it to another for
less than what he paid for it he will be doomed.
Filmed during the German occupation and when the Vichy government ruled, there are political messages derived from the allegory. The film supporters were aligned with the Partisans, and had something to say about those French men who traded their souls for convenience and comforts during the Nazi occupation.
REVIEWED ON 1/28/2015 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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